Thinking about retirement? How about a place where the pace is slow, the people friendly, beautiful scenery, unlimited outdoor activities, great weather and a low cost of living. If that is what you’re searching for, then you’ve just described Prescott, Arizona.
The first thing to know about Prescott is that the locals pronounce it Preskitt – just like biscuit. Don’t ask why the different pronunciation – just go with it, otherwise you’ll be branded an outsider instantly. And also be aware that the city of Prescott is different than the city of Prescott Valley, which is located 12 miles east of Prescott. Phoenix is located just 90 miles south of Prescott, so if you yearn for the big city, you’ll find it an hour and a half away.
Prescott sits in central Arizona and is the county seat of Yavapai County – one of the four original Arizona Counties. At a 5205’ elevation, it has four distinct seasons and an unlimited supply of pure fresh air with over 300 days of sunshine. The altitude provides perfect summer temperatures in the mid-eighties and fall temps in the 60’s to 70’s with cool evenings.
Prescott and the surrounding valley afford a myriad of activities for anyone at any activity level. Whether you are into arts and culture, or you are an avid outdoorsman, you will never run out of available things to do here. A golfer’s paradise, Prescott boasts some of the most beautiful golf courses in Arizona. Nicknamed “Everybody’s Hometown,” Prescott gives you a small town feel, but also has access to big town amenities.
There are five lakes around Prescott, but three in particular afford good fishing. Lynx Lake covers 55 acres and is stocked with fish. It sits about 5 miles east and has a wide variety of fish. Goldwater Lake sits about 4 miles south of Prescott and is smaller than Lynx Lake at about 15 acres. Only boats with electric motors are allowed and there are rentals available. Watson Lake is about 4 miles north and is also stocked with fish. Watson Lake is a beautiful spot, with hiking trails surrounding the lake that you can traverse on foot, bicycle, or horseback. Two other lakes, Granite Basin and Willow, are smaller and more for scenery lovers.
Several species are available to hunters; Antelope, Elk, Black Bear, Javalina, Mountain Lion, Mule Deer, and Quail offer a wide variety of challenge. See the Arizona Game and Fish website for details about permits, dates and rules. If you have never hunted but are exploring the possibility, check out the Prescott Hunting Club for classes and information about hunting.
Prescott has access to some spectacular scenery and hikers can take advantage of it through a huge collection of trails. The “Mile High Trail System” contains approximately 48 miles of trails, some of which are part of the old Santa Fe Railroad path. Now called the Rails-to-Trails project, former train tracks have been converted into hiking and walking trails which are maintained by the state. The Prescott Circle Trail is a vast network of trails that will eventually circle all of Prescott. Check out Prescott Trails and Maps for a list of trails and detailed maps.
Phippen Museum of Western Art in Prescott is ground zero for its collection of quality Western Art with a dedication to the history and preservation of the deep heritage of the area. The famous Smoki Museum is not to be missed, and is currently exhibiting photography from former Senator Barry Goldwater, who considered Prescott his second home. The museum is centered on Southwest Indian Art, highlighting artwork from some of the Indian Tribes that are indigenous to the area. Also, every 4th Friday of the month beginning in May, downtown Prescott hosts the Art Walk, where local galleries display a wonderful variety of artwork.
Prescott has a wide variety of apartments and single family homes ranging from entry level to sprawling ranches priced as high as $14 million. With over 1700 homes currently listed, there is something for everyone. Median price for a home is $250,000 and the average price per square foot is $129. The overall cost of living in Prescott is about 8% higher than the US average, but people that live here gladly pay a little more for the quality of life they enjoy. Real estate taxes are fairly low at 1% - 1 ½% of market value.
The Yavapai Regional Medical Center provides quality health care to the area. It is a not-for-profit operation with two locations in the Prescott area. The Northern Arizona VA Health Care System provides services to military veterans, with a large facility located within the city.
Prescott is home to one of the nation’s most prestigious aeronautical colleges – Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. Here is where the major airlines hire more alumni than any other collegiate aviation program. For general education, there are numerous other charter and public schools and colleges.
With all there is to offer, it is no wonder Money Magazine consistently ranks Prescott as one of the top 20 retirement destinations. Why not make a visit and find out for yourself what others have already discovered – that Prescott really can be “Everybody’s Hometown.”